Thursday, February 24, 2022

Blog Tour: Summer in Bellbird Bay by Maggie Christensen

I have been reading Maggie Christensen's Granite Springs mature age romance series for just over a year now. I love that they are consistently good and very comfortable reads, so I can't tell you how disappointed I was when I heard that the series was coming to an end, despite the fact that I still have a few books in the series to read.

It turns out though that there was no need to worry because she is now writing a new series set in a town on Queensland's Sunshine Coast called Bellbird Bay and it has all of the same elements that I love. Where Granite Springs is set in a university town, Bellbird Bay is a beachside town. There is a slight link to Granite Spring series, in that the main character, Ailsa McNeil is the sister of one of the characters who got their happily ever after in the previous series. However, that is really the only link so you don't have to read all nine books in the Granite Springs series to appreciate this book.

Ailsa McNeil's life has been turned on it's head unexpectedly after her husband says that the marriage is over. She needs some time and space to think things through, so she takes advantage of a standing invitation from her old friend, Bev Cooper, to visit her home in Bellbird Bay, leaving her husband and grown sons behind.  Long walks on the beach in a town where no one knows her sounds perfect, especially seeing as she is not ready to talk through what has happened in her life with anyone. And it was ideal until Bev's brother Martin suddenly announces that he is coming home. No one really knows why and Martin is not ready to talk about why he is returning to the town that he left many years ago. Ailsa has never told Bev about the spark that she felt for Martin as a teenager.

Martin is a successful photographer. His work has taken him to many out of the way places and he has worked hard to build a career that is enviable to his peers. What he has never been good at is relationships with women. His latest romantic partner moved on to someone else as soon as his career took a nosedive in controversial circumstances. Now he is back in the town that he grew up in hiding from the world. It is, however, hard to hide when you are something of a local celebrity, and many of the people in the town are the people that you grew up with. He really doesn't see the attraction of staying in the town like his old mates have.

When Bev hurts herself, Martin and Ailsa are forced to spend time together working hard to keep her garden centre and cafe going while she recovers. And spending time with Martin brings that spark back to life, but Ailsa still has to deal with her marriage and work out what her future is going to look like.

One of the things I found myself thinking about as a read this book was about the idea of coming home. I have lived in several cities now. I started in Perth, then moved to Adelaide when I was ten and lived there until my early twenties, went overseas for five years, back to Adelaide and then moved to Melbourne around twenty years ago. It's odd to me that for all the time I lived in Adelaide, Perth was still home to me (mainly because most of my family still lived in Perth) but as soon as I moved to Melbourne that felt like home. I do still love visiting Perth and there are certain things that very much make me think of it with fond memories even now. 

One of the things that I love about these books is that the romances are for mature people. As much as I love to read about twenty somethings falling in love, I do enjoy reading stories where people my age or older are getting the chance to meet that someone special. After all, I was lucky enough to meet someone amazing in my mid 40s.

There was an interesting cast of secondary characters in this book, and it is clear to me that at least some of these will become the primary characters in their own stories in the series. The next book, Coming Home to Bellbird Bay is out in May and I am already looking forward to it. In the mean time, I am reading all the Granite Springs books I haven't yet read. I've read two this week alone!

Rating 4.5/5

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy of this book

About the book:

Summer in Bellbird Bay

Can Bellbird Bay provide solace to these two broken souls?

When Ailsa McNeil’s marriage falls apart, an invitation to spend the summer with an old friend in Bellbird Bay offers her the opportunity to escape and regroup. What she doesn’t expect is to meet her friend’s twin brother, the first man to stir her emotions when she was an impressionable nineteen-year-old.

As a young man, Martin Cooper couldn’t wait to leave Bellbird Bay. He has spent the past thirty years travelling the world and has accomplished his dream of becoming a celebrated travel photographer. But it has come at a price and, when his career and personal life take a downward turn, he returns to his hometown to consider his future.

When an accident thrusts the two together, their earlier attraction resurfaces. Torn between the desire to protect herself from further hurt and her renewed feelings for the man she’s never forgotten, can Ailsa find happiness again or is it too late?

A heartwarming tale of family, friends, and how a second chance at love can happen when you least expect it.

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About the Author –

After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations, and historical fiction set in her native Scotland. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her trips to visit family in Scotland, in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them. Her writing has been described by one reviewer as like a nice warm cup of tea. It is warm, nourishing, comforting and embracing.

From the small town in Scotland where she grew up Scotland, Maggie was lured to Australia by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’. Once there, she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!


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